; Educating Women Farmers to Assess Local Foods Opportunities and Risks | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Educating Women Farmers to Assess Local Foods Opportunities and Risks

Winifred McGee


The NCSU’s General Facts about Agriculture asserts that the American farmer receives approximately 23% of each consumer food dollar, while the remaining 77% covers production, processing, marketing, transportation, and distribution costs. Consumer concern about safety of imported food, and the carbon footprint associated with traditional food choices, has resulted in increased demand for local foods. Reacting to these trends, female farmers are more apt to consider direct marketing their agricultural commodities, and value-added products, to the consumer. Because producing and selling value -added items requires different skills-sets than does traditional production agriculture, and introducing foods to the marketplace opens the seller to unique business risks, it is important that farmers receive education and support from Extension to effectively start and manage local food enterprises. The multi-faceted Penn State Extension program, "Food for Profit" combines a one-day face-to-face workshop, a self-paced Internet training, and a set of Extension Fact Sheets to instruct farmers adding value and other local food entrepreneurs. Participants are taught to conduct feasibility studies, develop written plans, and ultimately launch food ventures. A 2011 USDA RME grant supported the addition of risk awareness and mitigation strategies. This presentation will provide a quick overview of the educational content and materials, followed by detailed impact analysis for this program (reaching over 300 participants from fall 2010 to spring 2012), including a profile of participants, aggregated post-workshop feedback about KASA gains, and adoption rates of: 1) business start-up in general (go-/no-go), and 2) specific risk management strategies advocated by this program.